‘Great Job’ goes a Long Way…

We’re always trying to motivate students. We’re trying to get them to persevere or to just finish the homework. I’m sure as parents and educators, we think we’ve tried all the tricks to get the motivation flowing. But perhaps there’s something small, yet impactful that we might have missed in the process. Now what I’m talking about is encouragement. It sounds simple and it may even sound like something you do with your student, but are you sure? Are you encouraging them when they’ve done something good or corrected a previous error? Are you providing words of affirmation to ensure they will overcome the current challenge or obstacle? On reflection, you might find that you don’t or you don’t encourage enough. We’re here to change that!

Saying nice words that lift the student and their spirits up will always help the attitude to learning. Words and phrases like “Keep it up”, “Good” or “Great Job” create a positive environment. Learning in a positive environment can trigger a positive attitude and mindset to get ready for learning. With motivation and positivity on their side, we can expect an increase in the effort applied by students.

Obstacles and challenges are bound to show up. They are both a part of life and a part of learning. But students aren’t going to get through either if they don’t feel encouraged or supported in their pursuit. Students might say “I can’t do this” or “I’m not smart enough for this.” But what do you say in response? Try encouraging students to pursue using phrases like “I’m here to help you through this” or “You’ll get it with practise!” When they are faced with a challenge like this, never let them think they can’t do it. That not only develops a lack of confidence but also low self-esteem; two attributes we don’t want to see in any of our students.

If students get the hang of a concept or make good on something they’ve been struggling with, celebrate it! Now we’re not talking about a party-like celebration (although we definitely would not discourage it). What we’re talking about is an encouragement celebration. Stickers, words of affirmation and praises of behaviour are appropriate. Perhaps they’ve put extra work in or reviewed a little longer than usual to get there. If that’s the case, explain the importance of their progress and how their education will benefit if they continue the behaviour. Who knows, the student might even implement it after all the praise it received!

Encouraging students is key to building motivation and momentum with their studies. We don’t need new big ideas or to constantly think of ways to get the ideas flowing or the words on the page. Sometimes all it takes is some reaffirming words to promote support and ensure students are aware someone is always happy to help.